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Seven Ideas for a Theosophical Life

 

There Is an Unconditional
Peace Along the Way to Wisdom
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 
 
 
 
 
To live like wise men live. To act correctly, and thus come to know the unlimited potentialities of our higher self, or spiritual soul.  This science should be studied since primary schools and up to postgraduate courses in universities.
 
In conventional education, students assimilate a mixture of useful and useless information. A large proportion of the learning is superficial. Young people are forced to keep large amount of data in their memories in order to pass examinations. As they study something new, they forget whatever they may have learned in the months before.
 
The ability of students to concentrate their minds is scarce because their emotional problems are big. The same lack of guidance is present later in the professional and family life. How can one live in the best possible way?
 
Theosophy is not an area of conventional knowledge like History or Geography, in which one may get proficient by memorizing information and concepts. Every day the act of learning to live must start again. You can never get too far from the basic level. If you think you know much, it only means you have lost your common sense and your discernment got impaired.  
 
In order to live Esoteric Philosophy, one must refuse to learn some things, like deceiving people and telling lies. It is necessary to give up various habits, like selfish thinking. You have to be your own teacher and voluntarily decide in each case what you will assimilate, or not, into your personal universe, and what should be rejected or preserved as part of your life.
 
There are countless ways to teach and learn the Science of life. People have different temperaments, ages and cultural backgrounds.  There is no single formula to be dogmatically applied to the lives of all. “The path is made as we walk”, in the words of the Spanish poet Antonio Machado.
 
Whenever we get stuck to a limited portion of human wisdom, our horizon becomes narrow and a false sense of security, provoked by mental routine, impedes the learning process.  “Some doctrines are like a window pane”, Kahlil Gibran wrote. “We see through them, but they separate us from truth”. [1]
 
For this reason it is wise to think by ourselves and adopt as part of our lives whatever we see that is universally good in each religion, science and philosophy. The method to learn is experimental: the laboratory is each one’s daily existence. Let us see then some basic tenets of the ancient art of Living.

1) It Depends on You to Love Life and Be Happy

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought,” says the Dhammapada: “all that we are is founded on our thoughts and formed of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with pure thought, happiness pursues him like his own shadow that never leaves him.” [2]
 
You do not need to apologize for being content with life. Contentment is unconditional. Stop reading this for an instant: close your eyes, take a deep breath and relax.  Remember the entire cosmos is ruled by that same peace which you can find in the silence of your heart.  Experience as deeply as you can the fact that being alive is a reason strong enough to be happy with Life.
 
Our commitment to our own spiritual soul deserves to be regularly renewed, for it is the first step to live with wisdom.

2) Define the Goal of Your Existence

“Work is love made visible”, wrote Khalil Gibran. “And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.” [3]
 
The object of one’s life cannot be obtained without effort. One must work hard to attain it. Have we made a clear choice regarding what is the goal? Is it clearly delineated?
 
Examine your conscience. Define or redefine your goal before you work for it, and remember these two facts:
 
A) The nobler the goal, the less likely it is that you can be disappointed, because you will be free from the delusions coming with personal expectations; and
 
B) One of the deepest pleasures known by any human being is the joy of having one’s duty fulfilled.

3) Have Confidence in Yourself and Your Future

Self-reliance results from the unworded dialogue and interaction with one’s higher self.
 
An earnest student of theosophy loses no energy with envy because he relies on himself, on his spiritual soul and the universal law. Since he has self-confidence, his attitude before life is positive. He is ready to help others.  
 
One of the worst tragedies that can happen to a human being is losing his strength of spirit and the joy of building a healthy future.  On the other hand, misfortunes are passing events, while one’s connection to light is permanent. Self-respect provokes a feeling of respect for others: and respect for people expands our self-esteem.

4) Integrate Word, Emotion, Intention and Action

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras say:

“11. What brings you shame, do not unto others, nor by yourself. 12. The highest of duties is honor of self. 13. Let Justice be practiced in words as in deeds; 14. Then make the habit, never inconsiderately to act.”
 
A few lines later, the Verses add:
 
“27. Think, before you act, that nothing stupid results; 28. To act inconsiderately is part of a fool; 29. Yet whatever later will not bring you repentance, that you should carry through.” [4]
 
To live with effectiveness means acting with integrity. We must think what we feel and feel what we think, as much as possible. It is correct to establish a harmonious connection between actions, emotions and thoughts. The wise man is one, although he can be seen from different angles. It is because of his integrity that he has inner peace. Sextus, the Pythagorean, taught:
 
“To live, indeed, is not in our power, but to live rightly is.”[5]   
 
By developing the strength of his soul, the pilgrim becomes stronger than the pressure exerted by the outside world. And he attains victory using the old method of trying, failing and learning from mistakes.

5) Open the Way for the Search of Wisdom in Daily Life

The struggle against the causes of suffering is rather silent and takes place around the clock. Discernment is of the essence. A Master of the Wisdom wrote:

“How can you know the real from the unreal, the true from the false? Only by self-development. How get that? By first carefully guarding yourself against the causes of self-deception. And this you can do by spending a certain fixed hour or hours  each day all alone in self-contemplation, writing, reading, the purification of your motives, the study and correction of your faults, the planning of your work in the external life. These hours should be sacredly reserved for this purpose, and no one, not even your most intimate friend or friends, should be with you then. Little by little your sight will clear, you will find the mists pass away, your interior faculties strengthen (...) and certainty replace doubts.” [6]

You deserve to dedicate some time to yourself every day. It is correct to manage such a time so as to develop various activities like reading, thinking things over, recording your thoughts in a diary and observing the progress and difficulties of your efforts to lead a correct life.
 
Remember that the more you see the light within, the less light you will find outside.
 
One must give others support without expecting support from them. It is not realistic to act with ethics just because someone else gives an ethical example. To do one’s best must be an unconditional decision: otherwise, it would have no merit.

6) Be Able to Wait; Go Slowly Ahead; Avoid Any Excess

“Patience is the wisdom of waiting”, says an old Chinese proverb. And another precept adds: “Patience is a tree of bitter roots and sweet fruits.” Sigmund Freud wrote that being able to wait is an essential tenet to live well. Patience is as important as enthusiasm or the decision to act with intensity.
 
The different philosophical virtues are external forms of the same wisdom: they act in group and complement each other.  We must not be in harmony with one virtue or two, therefore: we need all of them if we want to live in a wise way.   
 
It is correct to work with the intensity of those who want immediate results, while having the patience of one who does not need to see the fruits of his work. In order to be able to wait, one must learn to remain in silence. The Chinese tradition has several proverbs about it: 
 
“Think before you talk, and do not say everything you think”;
“The heart of a fool is in his mouth”; and
“Those who keep talking all the time have no time to think”.
 
On the other hand, the virtue of patience is not limited to being able to contain or avoid anxiety. It is the natural result of an inner state of peace.
 
In ancient Greece, the great Temple of Apollo at Delphi had several inscriptions on its entrance. One of them was “Know Thyself”. Another one was “Nothing Overmuch”. Moderation, together with common sense, is the touchstone of spiritual search and the Science of Living.
 
Soon after adopting a lofty and noble goal, one must face the dangers of anxiety and exaggeration. “In order to live well and for a long time, you must act with moderation”, says a Chinese proverb. “Greed gets into one’s heart in order to steal the peace of mind”, adds another one.
 
Buddha taught the Middle Way, which avoids the two mistakes of indulgence and excessive asceticism. A wise man allows events to unfold in their natural rhythm. He preserves his energy to use it with full intensity in the right timing and in the right way.  
 
The action of wise people is often imperceptible, because they silently inspire others to act in better ways.  “I only know that I know nothing”, humbly said Socrates, the greatest sage of Greece. An effective government, according to Taoism, organizes things in such a natural way that nobody perceives the presence of the officials. The duty of a leader is not to be seen by everyone all the time; it is instead to pay attention to the needs of his community.

7) Do Moderate Physical Exercises, Daily and in Open Air

In every system of expanded magnetism, a ground wire is an indispensable source of safety. Walking therefore is a blessing. The deeper breathing which comes with moderate physical exercise is a key idea for a better life. To walk outdoors expands and harmonizes Prana, the vital force.[7]
 
Right breathing puts one’s spinal column and spinal cord in a more correct position, which strengthens both the physical structuring of the body and the subtle structuring of one’s individual consciousness.
 
The intensified working of breathing optimizes the heartbeat, attracts higher level emotions and helps eliminate negative thoughts. It stimulates a readiness to use the opportunities that life offers us, to accept challenges with realism and learn the lessons that allow us to avoid unnecessary suffering. 
 
We are essentially made of energy. On the other hand, we possess physical bodies which pulsate for some time in the ocean of life, once and again, according to the law of cycles. Human existence is a passing event which can be renewed thanks to reincarnation. It unfolds through a series of combined vibrations and rhythms, whose quality can be improved in their various levels of consciousness. Walking, among other moderate forms of physical exercise, strengthens the energetic basis we need to expand the harmony with our own higher self, and with the cosmos.
 
NOTES:
 
[1] “Parábolas” (“Parables”), Gibran Khalil Gibran, a book edited and translated into Portuguese by Mansour Challita, Acigi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 132 pp., see p. 46.
 
[2] “The Dhammapada”, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 139 pp., see page 1, verse 2.
 
[3] “The Prophet”, by Kahlil Gibran, Senate, Singapore, 2004, 114 pp., see p. 35.
 
[4] From “The Golden Verses of Pythagoras”, by Hierocles of Alexandria. The text is available at our associated websites.  
 
[5] “The Golden Verses of Pythagoras and Other Pythagorean Fragments”, Kessinger Publishing Inc., USA, 82 pp. See p. 48.
 
[6] “Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom”, compiled and edited by C. Jinarajadasa, TPH, Adyar, 1973, First Series, Letters to and About L.C. Holloway, Letter II, p. 149.
 
[7] See the Portuguese language article “A Arte de Passear”, by C.C. Aveline, in our associated websites.
 
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The above text was first published in Portuguese language under the title “Sete Ideias Para Uma Vida Teosófica”.
 
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Seven Ideas for a Theosophical Life




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